Can You Get Bigger Arms in a Calorie Deficit? (The Secret to Gains)

Can you get bigger arms in a calorie deficit

Are you trying to lose body fat but also want to gain some massive guns in the process? Can you get bigger arms in a calorie deficit? Is this even possible?

The secret to getting bigger arms in a calorie deficit is to decrease your overall caloric deficit, increase protein intake, and perform the correct bicep and tricep exercises.

Read on to learn more.

Can You Get Bigger Arms in a Calorie Deficit?

Yes, you can gain muscle to your triceps and biceps in a calorie deficit by fine tuning your caloric and macronutrient intake and make sure you are not restricting calories too much.

In fact, it is possible to gain muscle anywhere on your body in a calorie deficit.

When you lift weights and are trying to shed body fat, the secret is to pretend you are not even trying to lose body fat.

You should be pushing just as hard as you would be in a bulk phase, if not harder.

The reason being is that when you are in a calorie deficit, your body will start to burn muscle for energy if you do not give it the proper nutrients and muscle stimulation.

You need to prevent this from happening, and you do this by pushing hard on your lifts while also consuming adequate amounts of protein as well as calories.

Much of weight lifting is mind over matter, and you should work on your mindset. The best way to do this is by forgetting about the fact that you are actually in a calorie deficit.

If you get a preconceived notion in your mind that you will not be able to gain strength and size to your arms, or anywhere on your body for that matter, simply because you are consuming a less amount of calories, you will likely not be able to reach your full potential.

Mild to muscle connection is also real.

This means that if you believe you can get bigger arms and you are really honing in and feeling the muscle contracting with each rep, you likely will see more growth.

It is all about convincing your mind that it is possible and then working hard towards that goal.

Focus on the muscle contraction with each rep you perform and learn to perfect your form, rather than just rushing through your sets.

Increase Your Protein Intake To Get Bigger Arms

Protein is essential to muscle growth and muscle preservation.

In order to get bigger arms, you need to be consuming at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You can increase it even more from here if you are able to, perhaps to 1.5 grams per pound.

This means if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be eating at least 200 grams of protein per day.

If you are really serious about packing on some mass to your arms, then you should be eating closer to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

When you lift weights, you create micro tears in your muscles.

In order for these micro tears to repair and grow back stronger, your body needs protein.

If you are not consuming enough protein, your body will have a hard time growing muscle and might start to break down muscle tissue for energy, and this is the last thing you want when trying to get bigger arms.

You can get your protein from whole food sources such as chicken, fish, beef, and eggs or through supplementation with whey protein powder or casein protein powder.


If you are having trouble consuming enough protein through food, it is a great idea to try a protein shake or a protein bar.

Protein Helps You Feel Full

Protein helps you feel full longer because it takes your body longer to break down and digest.

This is important when you are in a calorie deficit because you want to make sure you are not overeating and undoing all of your hard work. But also, if you feel satiated and are not feeling hungry, you will be able to focus more when lifting weights.

You do not want to lift weights when you are feeling hungry. If you know you are going to be performing a hard workout, eat a small snack before that will give you an adequate amount of carbohydrates and protein to perform.

Protein Helps Prevent Muscle Loss

Consuming an adequate amount of protein in your diet helps to prevent muscle breakdown by preserving muscle mass when you are in a calorie deficit by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing protein degradation.

Protein is an essential macronutrient that should not be neglected and it serves many functions within the body in addition to building and preserving muscle mass.

This is why it is so important to make sure you are getting enough protein when trying to lose body fat.

You cannot gain muscle without protein, and you also cannot preserve muscle without protein.

Reduce Your Calorie Deficit to Get Bigger Arms

A very important thing to consider when trying to gain muscle to your arms is to not be too restrictive with your calorie deficit.

If you are adhering to a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day and want to gain muscle, you should consider dropping this deficit to 200-300 calories per day.

You will still be able to lose body fat in this deficit, but you will be giving your body more energy from calories to try to get those gains in.

A calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is a good place to start when trying to lose body fat, but if you want to maintain muscle mass while also losing body fat, you might need to increase your calories slightly.

This may be a hard idea to grasp, but you will still have success and be able to lose body fat over time being in a smaller calorie deficit.

If you are trying to build muscle with a calorie deficit that is too strict, you will not have much success because your muscle needs energy from calories to grow.

If you are having trouble making muscle gains or you even feel you may be losing, try increasing your calories each day by 200 calories and then re-evaluate.

Getting Bigger Arms Can Burn More Calories

If you are able to increase the amount of muscle on your body, you will also increase the amount of calories you burn at rest. This is because muscle is active tissue and it requires more energy to maintain than fat.

Muscle is more metabolically active. This means that it burns more calories at rest than fat.

If you have the goal of losing body fat, gaining muscle is a great way to help you achieve this because the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn each day.

So, even though you are consuming more calories by not having a huge caloric deficit, you will be burning more calories as well as you put more muscle mass on your body.

This is why it is important to focus on getting stronger in your lifts and not just worry about the number on the scale. The number on the scale does not reflect muscle growth or even fat loss 100% of the time.


If you want to accurately assess results on the scale, do not check every single day. You should keep track of weigh ins by the week or by the month.

A far better method for checking if you are making gains is to measure your body instead.

Increase Your Lifting Frequency in a Deficit

In order to get bigger arms in a calorie deficit and increase bicep and tricep growth, you need to train the muscle at the correct frequency.

Evidence shows that training a muscle twice per week leads to increased growth then when only trained once per week.

Why only train a muscle once per week when you could train it more than once for more growth?

Try to make sure you are getting in at least 2 arm workouts per week and focus on progressive overload by adding weight to the bar or doing more reps with the same weight.

You should also focus on quality over quantity. It is better to do 4 sets of 10-12 reps with good form than it is to do 12 sets with crappy form that isn’t going to move the needle in any way.

Good form and progressive overload are paramount. Start focusing on perfecting form and increasing what you can do week by week.

Related Post: The Best Workout Split in a Calorie Deficit

Perform The Correct Arm Exercises

Selection of the correct exercises to focus on the bicep and tricep of the arm is important because if you are not focusing on the correct muscle movement, you could hinder results.

In order to see growth to your arms, you should be performing the correct isolation exercises:

  • Biceps: Dumbbell curls, preacher curls, spider curls, Zottman curls, cable curls
  • Triceps: Skull crushers, rope pull downs, overhead dumbbell extensions

These exercises target the specific muscles of the arms and will help to bring about the most growth.

Isolation exercises are great, but compound exercises should not be neglected either.

Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time and are great to focus on if you want to start seeing some massive gains as well as an increase in overall strength.

Some great compound exercises for arms are:

  • Pull ups
  • Dips
  • Bench press
  • Overhead press
  • Rows
  • Pull downs

These exercises will help you to not only grow your arms, but your whole upper body as well. Compound movements are great for increasing size and strength because you will be utilizing a multitude of muscle groups at once, rather than alone.

Focus on Triceps

Another important bit of information is that the triceps make up the majority of the arms surface area as compared to the bicep, so if you really want to create the illusion of bigger arms, you should be focusing heavily on triceps.

Make sure to include exercises to work all three heads of the triceps. This includes the long head, lateral head, and medial head.

If you are looking for a great exercise that can work all three heads of the tricep at the same time, you can try diamond pushups.

To perform diamond pushups, start by getting into a pushup position.

Once in the pushup position, bring your hands in so that your index fingers and thumbs are touching, forming a diamond shape.

From here, lower yourself down to the ground and then press back up. That is one rep.

Practice getting stronger and stronger week by week by increasing reps, sets, or even adding weight to your back using a weight vest or a backpack.

Use Resistance Bands

If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, or you just do not enjoy the gym for whatever reason, you can still get in a great workout by using resistance bands.

Bands come in different levels of resistance, so make sure you get the right ones for your level.

You can use them for curls, rows, overhead presses, and many other exercises.

The main thing is to just make sure you are using progressive overload by either adding reps, sets, or resistance as you get stronger.

Last Words

It is possible to increase the size and strength of your arms while in a calorie deficit, but it is very important to make sure your deficit is not too strict.

If your calorie deficit is too strict, it will be impossible to put on size or increase strength.

Protein intake is also vital. You can still maintain a calorie deficit and increase your protein intake. You might actually find you are able to curb how hungry you feel when you do this.

Ease up on your deficit a slight bit when trying to gain some size to those arms and also get in some more protein. You will still burn body fat over time if you focus on progressive overload and the correct isolation and compound movements.

Related Post: Growing Glutes in a Calorie Deficit